At this rate, the Big East will need more lawyers.
The conference decided it would sue TCU for leaving for the Big 12 before ever playing a game. More specifically, the lawsuit is about trying to recoup a $5 million exit fee for doing so.
I always understood why the Big East seemed to give the Horned Frogs a free pass. TCU agreed to join a conference that changed before they began competition. Really, I see both sides of it and in my mind, the decision isn't an easy one.
TCU will unquestionably argue that they were sold a false bill of goods. The Big East took a severe hit with the losses of West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse, and because of that, they weren't joining the same conference they signed up for. The Horned Frogs' move to the Big East became official before the scheduled departures of the trio and because of that, they should be allowed to leave without penalty.
Then there's the flipside - I also can understand the Big East's side of things. They would argue they didn't know any of the three schools were leaving and they can't be held responsible for that. Further to the point, joining any conference is a bit of a risk. No claim can or should be made that the league will always remain intact and I can't possibly imagine the Big East ever made such a claim.
So, yeah, form your opinion. If I had to lean one way or the other, though, I'd say TCU should have to pay something.
In a nutshell, here's what went down: The Big East reportedly contends that TCU agreed to pay $5 million to exit the conference, but (presumably) because the Big East had changed so drastically, they would not be subject to the required 27-month notification to leave. That all is apparently news to TCU ... well, at least according to their official statement:
"TCU administrators were surprised by this lawsuit and believe it is premature. The University is hopeful for an amicable resolution of this matter," the school said in a statement. "Because of the pending litigation, TCU will have no further comment."
Then there was this strange nugget:
The $5 million is due June 30.
So basically, TCU is not yet late with its payment according to that article, but they apparently feel as if the check isn't in the mail. When it comes down to it, this is probably the best way to sum things up:
However, this lawsuit isn't about getting the Horned Frogs to stay the 27-month waiting period, which is being imposed on Syracuse and Pittsburgh, who are leaving for the ACC in 2014, or pay a ridiculous buyout to be free of the waiting period like West Virginia. No, Big East schedules are already set as is its new membership. It seems like it's just about having TCU pay something so it doesn't look like the conference just let the Horned Frogs go.
Pitt fans, including myself, always felt that it was a bit odd that TCU was allowed to leave without any kind of a penalty. I don't think their penalty should be the same as a school like Pitt that was firmly entrenched in the conference, but it's difficult for me to think they shouldn't owe the conference anything at all.
Like many threatened lawsuits, I can't imagine this one going to court. The $5 million amount isn't all that much in the grand scheme of things and I wouldn't be surprised if the Big 12 ponied up a bit just to help TCU rid themselves of this headache. And even if the conference didn't help, with TCU due a significant increase in revenue with the Big 12 move, the potential to end this sooner rather than later exists.